The Butchart Gardens didn’t earn its rank among the top display gardens in the world during the cool months of winter. But should you happen to be in Victoria, the quaint British Columbia capital at the southern tip of Vancouver Island during the dormant ‘off-season,’ The Gardens are well worth a visit.
In fact, The Gardens themselves are worthy of a flight from Seattle to Victoria during the Magic of Christmas. This seasonal holiday event breathes early life into the leafless trees and stilled blooms as more than 3,000 lights transform the expansive walking grounds into a twinkling evening delight.
Wander Through The Butchart Gardens’ Christmas Lights
The twinkle. The ambiance. The warmth. There’s nothing quite like Christmas lights to fill your heart with joy. Sure, the holidays can be hectic. But when you find yourself surrounded by thousands of tiny lights on a crips evening, it’s like being transported out of time.
That’s what the Magic of Christmas at The Butchart Gardens offers — a spectacular display that envelops you in the holiday spirit. That awakens the imagination.
Throughout this winter wonderland, you’ll find a variety of scenes depicting The Twelve Days of Chrismas. Spread throughout The Gardens, each of the 12 displays is a joy to search for. If you aren’t familiar with this popular holiday tune, the 12 items include:
- A Partridge in the Pear Tree
- 2 Turtle Doves
- The 3 French Hens
- 4 Calling Birds
- 5 Golden Rings
- 6 Geese A-laying
- 7 Swans A-swimming
- 8 Maids A-milking
- 9 Ladies Dancing
- 10 Lords A-leaping
- 11 Pipers Piping
- 12 Drummers Drumming
The eight maids a-milking stand in a regal curve. The three French hens? Look for them sipping a cafe au late in front of the Eiffel Tower. Where are the five golden rings? Keep an eye out for them floating on a tranquil pond.
For those who can make the climb, it’s worth trekking to the top of the limestone mound at the center of the Sunken Garden. Arguably the most iconic spot in all of the 55-acre finely manicured grounds, it offers a breathtaking panoramic view. Rivers of lights flow throughout the flowerbeds, glittering along the bushes and shining up into the trees.
Enjoy a Seasonal Beverage
While warm gear is strongly encouraged, nothing keeps the winter chill at bay quite like sipping your favorite steamy drink. From seasonally-inspired lattes and a Winter Wonderland Mocha to a Gourmet Hot Chocolate, The Gardens’ Coffee shop offers a variety of drinks available to-go that can be enjoyed while strolling.
Sing Along to Christmas Carols at The Butchart Gardens
At The Gardens’ Piazza, join fellow light gazers and holiday enthusiasts to hear live holiday tunes. Both a brass band and traditional carollers perform throughout the night, switching off every half hour from 5:00 – 9:00 PM.
Playing a collection of classical carols, don’t be surprised if you find yourself singing along.
Savor a Festive Feast at The Butchart Gardens’ Dining Room Restaurant
The Butchart Gardens were the imaginative brainchild of Jennie Butchart, the wife of Robert Buchart. Seeking to turn her husband’s depleted limestone quarry into something beautiful, The Gardens began as a passion project.
From 1912 to 1921, Jennie arranged for soil from nearby farms to be hauled in by horse-drawn carts. Her initial endeavor was transforming the sunken quarry into a lush landscape. Located less than 500 feet as the crow flies from the Butcharts’ family residence, Jannie was fully immersed in her toils.
But don’t let the dirt fool you. She also lived a life of luxury — which you too can get a taste of when you dine at The Butchart Dining Room Restaurant. It offers spectacular views of the Private Garden, Italian Garden, and Tod Inlet. An ideal spot for a romantic dinner, social gathering, or celebratory meal — it is also supported by an exceptional culinary team.
During the Christmas season, a special dinner menu is offered from 5:00 – 8:00 PM. Seasonally-inspired items may range from a fortifying French Onion soup loaded with smoked Gruyére to a North Island coho salmon adorned with red radish.
INSIDER TIP: Reservations are STRONGLY recommended. Hoping to get a table night of can prove challenging.
Those looking for more casual fare will enjoy the Blue Poppy Restaurant. Housed in the former greenhouse, it too offers a seasonal Christmas dinner menu, plus longer operating dinner hours (4:00 – 8:00 PM). Menu favorites include Cowichan Bay chicken thighs served with herb fries, a smash burger tipped with a signature house-made sauce, and a children’s menu designed to accommodate those who are 12-and-under.
More Butchart Gardens’ Holiday Planning Tips
What is the fastest way to reach The Butchart Gardens from Seattle?
Kenmore Air’s regularly scheduled seaplane flights from Seattle to Victoria’s Inner Harbour are the fastest way to reach the BC capital. They are just a 35-minute scenic flight, offering stunning views of the Olympic Mounts, Cascade Moutain Range, Mount Bake, and the rocky coast surrounding the southern tip of Vancouver Island.
(Please note that international flights require check-in at least 45 minutes prior to scheduled departure time.)
These daily flights depart from both Kenmore Air’s Lake Washington terminal in Kenmore and the Lake Union Terminal in downtown Seattle. From the Victoria Inner Harbour Airport, it is roughly a 7-minute walk to the Fairmont Empress, where several tour companies depart for The Gardens.
How do you get to The Buchart Gardens from Downtown Victoria?
There are a variety of ways to get from Downtown Victoria to The Buchart Gardens. These include:
- Driving yourself
- Taking the public bus
- Taking a taxi or Uber
- Booking a tour
While you can certainly drive, if you find yourself visiting Victoria car-free, one of the best ways to experience The Gardens is by catching a tour bus. CVS tours offers a direct departure to and from The Gardens from just outside the Fairmont Empress Hotel.
How much are tickets to The Butchart Gardens?
Admission to The Butchart Gardens’ Magic of Christmas is $34 per adult, $17 per youth, $3 per child, and free for those younger than four-years-old. If you book a tour bus to take you to The Butchart Gardens, the cost of your ticket is often included in the cost of the tour.
When are The Butchart Gardens Christmas Lights on display?
The Butchart Gardens Magic of Christmas holiday lights display begins on December 1st and runs through January 6th, with the exception of December 25th (Christmas Day).
How long are the lights on at The Buchart Gardens?
During the Magic of Christmas at The Butchart Gardens, the gardens are open from 3:00 PM – 9:00 PM, with viewing available until 10:00 PM. In December, sunset happens as early as 4:18 PM, giving guests plenty of time to see the lights twinkle to their fullest.
How many Christmas lights does The Butchart Gardens have?
More than 3,000 lights are on display during the holiday season at The Butchart Gardens.
Is all of The Butchart Gardens open during Christmas?
No. While the Gardens come to life with colorful light displays, the Japanese and Mediterranean Gardens are closed during the holiday season.
How long does it take to walk around The Butchart Gardens?
During the Magic of Christmas, exploring the gardens can take anywhere from 2-4 hours. This will give you time to view all the lights, enjoy a meal, and listen to the carolers.